You probably know what this is even if you’re not familiar with the term ‘dry drunk.’ It’s that person who used to drink but no longer does and is pretty angry about it. To the alcoholic, the drink has been their best friend: always there in good times and bad. When the alcoholic stops drinking, they go through a grieving process and, without a supportive foundation such as spirituality, they get “stuck” in the anger phase of grieving.
The definition of a dry drunk is an alcoholic who no longer drinks but maintains the same old alcoholic thinking and behavior patterns as when they were drinking.
So, basically, a dry drunk is someone who no longer drinks but is unable to embrace sobriety. Those who quit drinking but are still angry about it wind up living miserable lives and usually make everyone else around them miserable too. So much so that their loved ones sometimes think: I almost wish they were drinking again. They feel as if they have to walk on eggshells around their now-sober loved one.
Abstinence vs. Recovery
A dry drunk is someone who abstains from drinking alcohol but who is not actually recovering from their previous life of drinking to cope with life on life’s terms.
More than likely, an alcoholic used alcohol because they struggled with emotional and psychological pain and anguish. To merely stop drinking isn’t enough to heal. A dry drunk is still struggling with these emotional and psychological problems that probably sparked their addiction in the first place but, is not taking the steps to heal emotionally.
Characteristics of a Dry Drunk:
- Resenting the person who has “made” them stop drinking, such as a spouse, parent or boss.
- Realizing that they may have not accomplished goals, dreams, and potentials because of their drinking.
- Fearing that it’s too late to achieve those goals or dreams, or that they are not even capable of accomplishing those goals.
- Having been unable to sustain a loving relationship with a partner and therefore never experienced having a family of their own because of their drinking.
- Having to accept that, due to drinking, they have wasted years of their life.
- Realizing that they are angry with themselves for not venturing out or challenging themselves for fear of failure.
- Being jealous of others for their vision, perseverance and strength and resenting the family member or friend for their dreams and accomplishments.
How to Avoid Becoming a Dry Drunk
One of the keys for success in sobriety is for the alcoholic to find something that they are passionate about and that is healthy for them. It stands to reason that if the alcoholic can invest their energy toward healthy, productive objectives, they will no longer feel and act like a dry drunk.
In 12 Step traditions such as AA, the prevailing theory is that, in order for an alcoholic to fully recover from the effects of alcoholism, they must replace their alcoholic ways with a strong spiritual foundation. Those in AA believe that only with such spiritual help from a higher power, true recovery is possible.
If you or your loved one is in need of treatment for alcohol or drug addiction please give us a call at 800-951-6135.